Atlanta Hawks: Nuggets 100, Hawks 90
J.J.'s 15 points after halftime couldn't save Hawks.
Denver– I wasn’t thrilled with my seat for the game, which was over a tunnel in a corner opposite the Hawks’ bench. But it turned out to be the perfect vantage point to see the Hawks bumble with transition defense.
- The Nuggets couldn’t wait to get out and run once they collected Atlanta’s errant long jumpers. From my seat I could see why. The Hawks were a jumbled mess as they tried to get back, stop dribble penetration, find shooters and defend the rim. They were lucky if they managed to do one of the four.
- “We had bad floor balance, which is unlikely for us knowing we are playing a team that likes to get up and down the court,” J.J. said. “Knowing that if you didn’t shoot the ball, you have to get back. I messed up a few times on that and it costs us. Just boneheaded plays.”
- L.D.’s message before the game was to control the tempo with good shot selection.
- “Didn’t do it,” he said. “Didn’t even come close to it. We got into a jump-shooting contest early. We ended up 2 for 19 on threes, you are not going to win on the road taking that many threes especially with the other things we gave up. That’s way, way too many to give up on the road. The things we were concerned about coming into this game they completely took advantage of it.”
- To be fair, Hinrich and Smoove could have made a difference for the Hawks in the second half. Hinrich because he’s likely to help the Hawks work for better shots, Smith because when all else fails he can protect the rim.
- “When I went out after the first half, and then Kirk not being able to go I think it hurt us a lot,” Smoove said.
- “I think it helped a little bit by Josh not being in the second half,” George Karl said. “Still a solid win.”
- Josh said he sprained his right medial collateral ligament when J.R. Smith fell on his leg. He’s likely to get an MRI. It’s the same knee he banged earlier this season.
- “For the past two games it was feeling like I was getting back to 100 percent and then this happens,” he said. “It’s kind of frustrating but I can’t control injuries.”
- Al (21 points, 10 of 15 shots) was the most efficient scorer for the Hawks but got just two shots in the fourth quarter (and made both). Marvin was 0 for 4, Joe was 3 for 8, and Jamal was 1 for 3.
- The game got away from the Hawks when they went more than three minutes without a field goal while down 89-85.
- “This was a very winnable game,” Marvin said. “Obviously when Smoove went down the other guys had to step up. We had great looks at it we just couldn’t make shots tonight and couldn’t get stops when we needed it.”
- “We missed looks we normally make,” Joe said. “I don’t know it was dead legs or what.”
- “When they started double-teaming Joe we tried to space the floor,” Drew said. “This was one of those games where we could have used Kirk, could have used Josh Smith. Because one thing those guys can do is space the floor. We turned down some shots out of the double team which we can’t do. If they double team and you get an open look you’ve got to take the shot. We had some guys that were a little bit reluctant.”
- Teague did his part to slow Denver’s dribble penetration in the halfcourt (and got six needed rebounds) but was 1 for 6 on field goals. By my (unofficial) count four of those misses were long jumpers, which still isn’t his thing.
- Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith helped Denver’s bench enjoy a 44-17 scoring advantage. Only Jamal can match that firepower on Atlanta’s bench but the reserves didn’t help matter with poor shot selection during Denver’s rally in the second quarter.
- So the Hawks finished their trip 3-4 with Ws against Detroit, Golden State and Portland and Ls to the Knicks, Lakers, Suns and Nuggets.
- “You know, when you look at the thing as a whole, it’s OK,” Al said. “It could have been worse. This is a game I don’t like to lose but the fact that we came out and competed even though we were shorthanded I liked that fact. We were down one going into the fourth and we had a chance.”
- “It could have been better,” Josh said. “I think we could have won that Phoenix game. We played well in Golden State and Portland.”
- “Not all was bad but you look back at games we could have got,” Marvin said. “The LA game was going to be tough, I think everybody knew that. Phoenix, they got up on us and we fought our way back and could have snuck that one.”
- “Obviously we would have liked to have done better but I think it’s acceptable to finish off 3-4,” L.D. said. “It could have been a lot worse. Now we are still in a position where we can control our own destiny. We have a boatload of games at home and if we have to go home and handle our business.”
- “After the trade as you can see we had a lot of positive things happen,” Joe said. “Those two games were close. We have got to look forward to getting back everybody healthy. Hopefully Smoove’s injury is not serious.”
- It’s Bulls, Thunder, Knicks, and the Lakers at Philips over the next eight days.
- “The good thing about the good teams is there is going to be a crowd there, no matter if they are favoring the visiting team or ours,” Josh said. “I think that gets us going more than anything and trying to play in kind of a playoff environment.”
- “I think we’ve shown that we’ve gotten it together the last few games,” Al said. “Even this game I think we played well aside from the transition aspect. We have to come out with energy and intensity and be ready to go because we have got some real good teams coming.”
- I’m headed home after 15 nights on the road. Ken S. is on deck for the next couple days. Thanks for reading, blog people.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat